Environmental Protection

Bill Gives NOAA Bigger Role in Chesapeake Cleanup

U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), along with Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Mark R. Warner and Jim Webb (both D-Va.) on June 10 introduced the Chesapeake Bay Science, Education and Ecosystem Enhancement Act of 2009, which would strengthen and enhance the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) role in the multi-state Chesapeake Bay clean-up effort.

The bill focuses the relevant science, research, and resource management capabilities of NOAA, enhancing its commitment to scientific data collection, the development of fishery management practices, and habitat restoration, and the legislation also seeks to strengthen NOAA’s environmental outreach programs.

“For 20 years, I’ve been fighting to restore the health of the Bay and the lives and livelihoods that depend on it. But progress will depend on the coordination, collaboration, and cooperation of many regional partners," said Mikulski, chair of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NOAA. "With its unique science, research, and data collection capabilities, NOAA has a critical role to play in federal Bay clean-up efforts."

“All of our federal partners need to accelerate their Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. This legislation will strengthen NOAA’s abilities to provide world-class science and living resource management in the Bay,” said Cardin, chair of the Environment and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee. “While EPA leads the effort to restore water quality in the Bay and its tributaries, this bill will allow NOAA to put increased attention to restoring our oyster, blue crab, and the other living resources that make the Chesapeake a national environmental treasure.”

The bill includes four primary objectives:

  • Increases collaboration between the various programs and activities at NOAA to further NOAA’s coastal resource stewardship mission.
  • Authorizes the Chesapeake Bay Interpretative Buoy system, a system that reports real-time weather and environmental information such as wind speed, temperature, and wave height.
  • Strengthens the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education and Training Program, which is a competitively based program that supports existing environmental education programs, fosters the growth of new programs, and encourages the development of partnerships among environmental education programs throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.
  • Assists watermen on the Chesapeake by expanding technical assistance that NOAA offers on helping the watermen develop aquaculture programs. The bill expands the expertise the NOAA offers beyond native oyster populations to include fish and shellfish aquaculture. It also promotes submerged aquatic vegetation propagation programs that act as natural filters for the Chesapeake Bay.

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